Unbridled aggression almost got the better of Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona in the Storm’s 16-10 NRL qualifying final win over North Queensland at AAMI Park.
Returning from suspension after sitting out his side’s minor premiership win over Cronulla a week earlier, the Kiwi international looked to have placed his entire finals campaign in jeopardy in the 59th minute.
A late hit which appeared to take out the legs of North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston gave away a penalty and gifted the Cowboys a much-needed opportunity to score and get back when they trailed by eight points at 14-6.
Thurston was kicking down field at the 50m mark and flipped, falling awkwardly on his head after Asofa-Solomona’s shot.
The penalty and the ensuing set resulted in a try to winger Kyle Feldt in the corner and lifted the reigning premiers back into the tightly contested match, trailing 14-10.
Thurston said he believed contact with his legs is what flipped him over in the tackle.
“I kicked (the ball) and I’ve hit the ground and he’s made contact with my legs which has flipped me over,” Thurston said.
“If the match review committee deem it to be charged, it will be charged but it’s out of my hands.
Cowboys coach Paul Green said he thought Asofa-Solomona’s shot on his key playmaker was dangerous.
“It was pretty ugly and they’re the dangerous ones where you take the legs out, particularly of the kicker,” Green said.
However Storm coach Craig Bellamy did not think there was any malice in the tackle.
“It was probably a little bit late, but I don’t know if (the penalty) was for tackling late, or tackling his legs but it looked like to me first contact was around his hips. It was a pretty tough penalty to be quite honest.”